Sleep deprivation can sound like quite a serious label to put on someone. Some new mums are reluctant to admit they are sleep deprived, stating they are just a little tired.
It is important to know that it is perfectly normal to experience sleep deprivation as a new mother. But, does this make it any better? No!
It is so easy to feel defeated by sleep deprivation and give in to its evil ways, letting it completely consume you and take over your precious first months with your child.
‘Just get more sleep’ is probably the most useless statement… ever… and that’s why I’m not going to say it to you. In this article I am going to give you some super helpful tips to getting a couple more winks in your hectic day and how to help your new baby sleep better.
Are you getting as much sleep as you were before?
First thing on the new mother agenda: stop comparing your sleep routine now to how it was before, pre-baby.
It is probably completely different and that is fine, you’re certainly not alone.
If you start counting the hours and comparing them to the 7 or 8 hours you got before, this will become over whelming and not make you feel any better about the sleep situation.
Don’t set unachievable targets and celebrate the little things.
Even an extra hour can make all the difference, so don’t feel disheartened when you’re not getting as many hours as you planned.
So, how do I get an extra hour in bed?
Simple changes you can make to fight sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is a huge monster that needs more than one hit to take it down.
Here are 5 little changes you can make to get you on your way to the land of nod:
- Cut the caffeine. It can take up to 5 hours for your body to cut the effects of caffeine down to just 50%, and to completely eradicate caffeine from your body can take up to 24 hours. This study shows that drinking caffeine 6 hours before bed time can take an hour off your sleep.
- Stay away from the light. Mobiles, TVs, laptops, iPads… stay away! The blue light from these devices tricks our minds into thinking its day time and can make it harder for you to fall asleep.
- Try to get some kind of routine going. As a new mum you may be thinking “huh, what’s that?” and I completely understand. But, if you can stick to a routine of waking up at the same time every morning, this will do wonders for your sleep cycle.
- Avoid late night snacks. We all do it. Evening routines with children can be a 6 hour long battle. After you’ve made them tea, forced them into a bath, tidied away the toys, battled with them to get into their pyjamas (the list goes on) it is easy to forget to feed yourself. However, eating late at night will give you a boost in energy which will make it harder to sleep.
- Aim for some wonderful, lovely naps. Forget the chores and take them whenever you can. They are a great way to fight sleep deprivation, but there are do’s and don’ts to napping. Keep reading to find out how to use naps to your advantage.
The benefit of naps
Before taking a nap, ask yourself these 3 questions:
How tired am I?
How much time do I have?
Is this a suitable environment to nap in?
If you’re super tired, have a decent amount of time and are in a good place to nap, opt for a 90 minute one if at all possible. This is the most beneficial type of nap as it mimics your natural sleep cycle.
If you’re not really tired and just need a little boost, even a 10-20-minute nap can make a big difference. This is a quick way to get more energy and become more alert and is probably a lot more accessible as a new mum.
The biggest mistake when taking a nap is having one late at night. This can be detrimental to your night routine and stop you from getting into a deep sleep.
If you want to read more about the right way to nap (including how to avoid killing the muscle tissue in your ears), then you can read our ultimate guide to napping.
How much sleep does your baby need?
Every baby is different, but here is a useful guide from Baby Centre:
New born: 8 hours during the day and 8 hours 30 min at night.
One month: 6-7 hours during the day and 8-9 hours at night.
Three months: 4-5 hours during the day and 10-11 hours at night.
Six months: 3 hours during the day and 11 hours at night.
Nine months: 2 hours 30 min during the day and 11 hours at night.
12 months: 2 hours 30 min during the day and 11 hours at night.
Ways to help your baby sleep better
When your baby sleeps, the bottom line is you can sleep, so let’s tackle this together. Here are some great ways to help your baby sleep better:
- Use the light. Make sure your baby is exposed to plenty of sunlight during the day, and in the evening start to dim the lights to get them ready for bed time.
This association with light and sleeping will help get them into a good routine. If they wake up during the night, try not to turn on the light as this will tell their brains it’s day time.
- Choosing the right moment. Easier said then done. If it sounds like your baby is waking, wait a few minutes for them to get back to sleep by themselves.
If they start making more noise, take action and try get to them as quickly as possible before it turns into a full-blown tantrum. This is to try create as little commotion as possible.
- White noise. This can mimic the sounds a baby hears in the womb, which can relax them and help them get a deeper sleep.
- Put them down awake. This will help them to fall asleep independently and they will see you leave the room, so won’t wake up in a panic when you’re not there.
- A warm blanket. Transferring your baby from a warm cuddle to a cold cot can be upsetting. Holding your baby in the same blanket you are going to lay them down in will maintain this warmth and cosiness
Sleep deprivation can push you to the brink of madness so if you’re currently in the throes of it, stay strong mama and do what you need to do to survive the exhaustion.
Author bio: Isabel Edwards is the main editor for the Hafco Siesta in Style blog, created to provide expert advice and bring light to common sleeping misconceptions, so we can help readers get the best nights sleep.
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